The return of Chinese brand Chery to Australia is another step closer, as an evaluation vehicle is spotted on Melbourne roads wearing a disguise.
The 2023 Chery Omoda 5 – the first new model from soon-to-relaunch Chinese car maker Chery – has been photographed in Australia ahead of the first showroom arrivals due by the end of this year.
While this Omoda 5 prototype (on NSW trade plates) is clad in heavy camouflage, the branded wheel centre caps and distinctive headlights give it away as the model set to lead Chery’s Australian re-launch due from this October.
Chery officials have previously told Drive the company planned to dock three display vehicles in Australia next month (August) – though this prototype appears to be a step ahead of that, judging by its provisional tail-lights used for testing only, and some missing parts.
In recent years, the Chinese car maker has been spotted testing its vehicles in Australia, developing suspension tunes and safety systems for vehicles bound for overseas markets.
However, the Omoda 5 sighting is the first time the company has been spotted testing right-hand-drive vehicles bound for Australian sale, on Australian roads.
It’s unclear if Chery will follow the lead of Hyundai, Kia and other brands in developing unique suspension and steering tunes for Australia, to better suit local road conditions. Drive has contacted Chery Australia for more details.
Chery is slated to return to the Australian market in late 2022 – seven years after its first attempt to carve a niche here in 2015, after an unsuccessful four-year run marred by poor safety ratings and an asbestos recall.
Leading the new Chery line-up is set to be the Omoda 5, a small SUV sized similarly to the Kia Seltos or Haval Jolion, offering modern styling, a high-tech interior, turbo-petrol power, and the full gamut of advanced safety technologies.
More models are slated to follow in the coming years, which may include a ute – as well as a range of hybrid and electric cars.
For everything you need to know about the Chery brand’s return to Australia, click here to read Drive’s in-depth story published last week.
Our thanks to reader Aiden for the photo and video. If you’ve seen a camouflaged prototype on the road, or have another news tip to share, email us at email@example.com, or message us on Facebook.
Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines as a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.